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From Cookie Monster to Veggie Monster – Targeting Childhood Obesity

Healthy Eating Plate - tiastarr.comHas Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster officially turned into the Veggie Monster? Over the years Sesame Street has become a household name bringing fun and learning to kids, particularly in literacy and math. In 2005, however, Sesame Street began educating viewers about other important topics such as health and childhood obesity. The classic kid’s television show recently joined forces with various anti-obesity organizations to start teaching viewers (of all ages) about the importance of a healthy diet. Sesame Street producer, Carol-Lynn recognized childhood obesity as a worldwide epidemic and wanted to address the issue publicly.

Sesame Street started its health awareness initiative with the adorable Muppet, Grover. Kids watched Grover getting into the gym and pumping iron, showing viewers the importance of fitness and working out. The next Muppet to take up a healthier diet on Sesame Street was the Cookie Monster. Once famous for his cookie addiction, the Cookie Monster is now portrayed as trading in his sugary treats for healthier foods like fruits and vegetables. That’s right! Even Cookie Monster has learned a thing or two regarding healthy eating habits. Cookie Monster still eats cookies, just not nearly as many.

This past November, First Lady, Michelle Obama, appeared on Sesame Street’s 40th season kickoff show. During her guest appearance, Mrs. Obama talked about the dangers of childhood obesity and the growing need for our nation’s children to lose weight. She also discussed the importance of eating a healthy diet and exercising. The First Lady showed her concern for childhood obesity in saying that, “The statistics are clear and they are shocking and I have cited them again and again: One in three kids in our nation today are (overweight or) obese and that figure increases for African-American and Hispanic children”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

* 32% of kids aged 2-19 are overweight or obese

* 38% of Hispanic children are overweight or obese

* 36% of Black children are overweight or obese

* 29% of White children are overweight or obese

Childhood obesity is leading to one of our nation’s greatest woes. Sesame Street has taken the initiative to help publicize and teach children about the importance of healthy living. This week, Sesame Street took their childhood obesity initiative even further by introducing four new Muppets, known as the “Super foods”. The Super food cast consists of a banana, a brick of low-fat cheese, a whole-wheat bun and a stalk of broccoli. All of these initiatives, both big and small, are ways to get our children on the right path to health and healthy eating habits. Let’s hope that some of these lessons rub off on parents too!


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